Giants

EXTRAS: Six-game East Coast road trip remix, etc.

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EXTRAS: Six-game East Coast road trip remix, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Between two six-game East Coast road trips, the Giants were gifted a break for the All-Star Game and a home series with the Houston Astros. They did what they had to and went 4-0, clinching home field advantage in the World Series and drop kicking the Astros down to San Diego with their 13th consecutive loss away from home.

RECAP: Instant Replay -- Giants 3, Astros 2

Coupled with a pair of weekend losses for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants moved into first place in the N.L. West. But they'll need to remain focused for all 73 remaining games; it's a race that everyone in the clubhouse is expecting to go down to the wire.

"We have to show we can play on the East Coast," Bochy said. "We got slammed pretty good on the last one."

Slammed to the tune of a 1-5 record, yes they did.

"Those were two really hot teams," Affeldt said of the Pirates and Nationals, without consciously bringing the warm weather into the conversation.

Their upcoming trip pits them against equally hot, and traditionally more dangerous, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The Braves are riding a seven-game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents 43-22. And they'll be well rested, on the heels of a day off.

RELATED: Bullpen bails out Cain, sets tone for road trip

The Phillies, while they are scuffling through their worst season in recent memory -- playing the N.L. East doormat -- just took two of three in Colorado and could get a boost from the return of Cy Young pitcher Roy Halladay on Tuesday.

"This is a big road trip coming up," Buster Posey said.

Against such foes, Bochy knows the team will need more than the three-run outputs with ten-plus runners left on base, as they have achieved in each of their last two wins against Houston.

"We're going to have to turn it up a notch with this offense, to get this done."

Hoping on Huff

After alluding to an imminent activation before Sunday's game, Bochy backtracked on Aubrey Huff's progress.

"I just felt he needs a few more games," Bochy said. "I want to make sure he's ready. When players come back, they need to be ready -- fully ready. There's not a break-in period.

"Aubrey agreed. A few more games playing first base would benefit him. And it should benefit us in the long run."

From the sound of it, it appears Bochy has every intention of bringing Huff back and playing him at first base.

While Belt seemed to make Huff -- and Brett Pill -- expendable during his torrential 11-game hitting streak from June 12-23, the young first baseman is just 8-for-his-last-46 (.173) since.

The plan is for Huff to report to Triple-A Fresno on Monday, after going 4-for-16 (.250) in five rehab games with Single-A San Jose. After a few more games playing in the field, when Huff is "fully ready," he'll be back.

Aaand, stay out

AT&T Park has not been kind to Houston Astros with Bay Area ties this year, and there are a number of them.

Marin county native Bud Norris faced the Giants in each of the Astros' two AT&T Park series. His first outing lasted just 3 13 innings when he was forced out of the game -- and onto the DL -- with a sprained knee. Sunday, Norris made it through six innings but was again tagged with the loss.

Castro Valley native and former Stanford Cardinal Jason Castro went 1-for-8 with and RBI in the first series, and missed this series with an injury.

Jed Lowrie, who also played collegiately at Stanford, went 0-for-10 with a run in the first series. He was 1-for-5 in this series before Gregor Blanco slid into his ankle at second base -- on a clean play -- and dropped Lowrie in writhing pain.

Castro and Lowrie were each placed on the disabled list Sunday.

First baseman Brett Wallace, who grew up in Sonoma, was sent down after he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Matt Cain's perfect game and hasn't made it back to the majors yet.

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

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USATI

Offseason can be tense on other side of Giancarlo Stanton rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Just around dinner time on Monday, Tyler Beede got a call he had been waiting for. General manager Bobby Evans informed Beede, the Giants’ top pitching prospect, that he was being added to the 40-man roster, a significant step toward making his big league debut. Earlier that day, however, Beede’s phone brought him some unwanted news. 

Like most Giants fans, Beede woke up to a report out of South Florida that he was one of several names the Giants and Marlins had discussed in Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. For fans or team employees, it would be painful to give up a Beede or a Chris Shaw or a Joe Panik, but images of Stanton taking aim at the Coke bottle at AT&T Park would soon wash away most concerns. 

For players, the reality this time of year is much different. The Giants are the only organization that all of the rumored pieces have ever known. Panik is a New Yorker, but he and his wife have grown to love San Francisco. Beede and Shaw have spent years dreaming of debuting at AT&T Park and playing in front of sellout crowds. That makes the Hot Stove Season a particularly tense time of year. 

“I try to be a guy who doesn’t look those kinds of things up too frequently, but obviously I’m a normal guy, so I tend to dig into it a little bit more and see what’s going on and see what people are saying,” Beede said on this week’s Giants Insider Podcast. “It’s funny. I don't really know how to handle it. It’s my third year going through the trade deadline and trade talk. I’ve just go to keep telling myself it’s a realistic possibility and not to be shocked if anything were to come out or a trade were to be made.”

The rumor mill is nothing new for these players. Panik acknowledged several times during the season that he could be the odd man out. Shaw actually already once thought he got traded to Florida. For a few minutes at the 2016 deadline, Twitter had him as a key piece in the Matt Moore deal. The outfielder came out of a hotel bathroom right after the deadline to see two teammates staring at him in disbelief as Twitter rumors flew. 

Five minutes later, he got a call from Bobby Evans. “You’re still a Giant,” Evans told him. “Don’t take your jersey off.”

“It’s a little tense for sure,” Shaw said earlier this year. “It’s not something you can try to predict. You can have a feeling but that means nothing.”

Evans has always communicated to players and their agents that they can reach out any time they have a question or concern about what they might be hearing, but when it comes to getting on the phone himself, he treats the trade deadline and offseason differently. There’s more urgency to clear the air in July when players might have to take at-bats or throw pitches with rumors weighing on their minds. In the offseason, Evans will wait to reach out until deals are closer to being agreed upon. He tries not to worry as much about “hot stove banter,” he said. 

“In the offseason I think it’s a little less of an issue because a lot of things get thrown out there that don’t have validity,” he said. “We certainly don’t try to respond to every single rumor with an update because there are new rumors every hour, so it’s hard to keep up. A lot more names are mentioned this time of year.”

Players try to find different ways to get away from it all. Every year, several Giants prospects talk of playing golf during the trade deadline to stay away from MLB Network and their phones. For veterans, it’s often easiest to just take offseason vacations, and Panik planned to visit Europe with his wife. 

Beede has a somewhat unique distraction as rumors trickle out. He’s getting married on Saturday, which along with the holiday, has kept him busy all week. Still, he knows the rumors will be out there. 

“After a couple of days I start to just understand that (my) name is going to be in rumors or there may be things that people say or speculate,” he said. “(If) Bobby tells me something, or my agent says something, then I can start to maybe engage in it a little bit more. But as of right now, I’m just trying to go about my preparation and I’ll continue to enjoy being a San Francisco Giant.”

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

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AP

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down.